Vitale Barberis Canonico
THE VITAL COMPONENT OF A FINE SUIT
Located in Pratrivero region in Northern Italy, the country’s greatest producer of quality apparel, Vitale Barberis Canonico, is still going strong. Dating back to 1663, the family run business works alongside the local community to bring out unique textiles. Although anonymous compared to your average brand, most gentlemen are likely to find the Vitale Barberis Canonico label discreetly sewn on to the fabric of at least one of their suits. Each year the company introduces 4,000 new fabrics and produces 8 million metres of fabric to be used in more than 2.5 million jackets and suits. With a global production, the world is their wardrobe. Suit fabrics are VBC’s speciality but they also produce fabrics for trousers and, as of recently, leisure wear and event functions. With a long list of international clients, VBC is often associated with J Crew, Suit Supply and menswear brands such as Michael Thomas in Washington D.C. and Cifonelli in Paris. Without restricting their services to a certain group, VBC always honours their family history and never compromises on their heritage, philosophy and craftsmanship.
Fifteen generations in, VBC continues to revolutionise the textile industry, even on a global level. Each step of the process is subjected to quality control, from start to end. VBC recently opened to the public the doors to two centuries of the firm’s fabric samples, making an invaluable contribution to the family history and tradition. Francesco, Vitale Barberis Canonico’s creative director, summarised it as I arrived in Biella.
“We employ 400 people in two factories, some of whom are from families who have been with us for three generations. We want be more than the ultimate textile source. Our hope is that any young man who comes across our brand and visits our website discovers a whole new world through us.”
Do trends affect your production?
“Vitale Barberis Canonico is not a fashion brand, but trends must have a small yet decisive influence in order for us to create fabrics that are contemporary.”
How do you maintain your importance?
“Everything starts with an idea. Some- times we gather inspiration from our archives. We introduce new colours and develop fabrics made from rare yarns but we always bear in mind the classic image that is part of our DNA.”
Few people know which factory was responsible for producing the fabric in their clothes. Is it important to understand the start of the process?
“Yes, I think it is. The fabric is the most important component of a suit, whether it is from a large scale clothing retailer or a tailor. In a world of tailors it is the fine details the separate the wheat from the chaff.”
What differences should our readers be aware of?
“Look out for the best possible raw material, made in Italy, and fabrics not made with a certain price in mind, but for the tailor and the end client.”
How can Vitale Barberis Canonico keep the tradition alive and stay competitive at the same time?
“By investing large sums in technology and striving to continuously educate the employees.”